Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Adventurous Birthday Weekend

Thank you to all who have asked about the car - it is fixed.  It simply needed a new battery.  I still owe the car mechanic 20,000 shillings ($12) since I didn't have enough cash with me when I went to pick up the car!  He didn't mind...said I could drop it by sometime.

This weekend Nate and I went on our first African adventure outside of Kampala.  We drove to Jinja - a city 2 hours northeast of Kampala famous for being the location of the source of the Nile River.  We camped right along the Nile.  The sound of the water was the best night-time noise maker!  Some friends of ours had gone whitewater rafting during the day on Saturday and we happened to be camping at the same organization - Nile River Explorers - that guided their rafting trip.  We hung out at a beautiful outdoor bar overlooking the river and watched the video of their experience.  We saw some amazing birds and also a monitor lizard in the river.  At first we thought it was an otter but then Nate took out his ridiculously large lens and zoomed in - it looked like a small crocodile (maybe 4 ft long?).

I'm 26 years old!  My birthday happened to fall on a Monday this year, so I convinced Nate that we should start celebrating Friday night.  Friday night was low key - running, yoga, reading and watching political T.V. Saturday we dropped Romeo off at a friends and left for Jinja.  Camping was great and Nate told me that we had an "appointment" at 10:00 on Sunday morning.  After enjoying coffee on the Nile we drove to the secret destination - Nile River Horseback Safaris!  Ever since my days in Denver, I've been begging Nate to go horseback riding with me.  He came through like he always does and planned a two hour ride through villages and along the Nile.  It was a wonderful surprise.

The Nile is beautiful - huge and surprisingly clean.  The banks of the river are covered with bright green plant life - it was a nice break from the dust and heat of Kampala.  Nate is posting our pictures to flickr now, so check out "Nate's flickr collection" under "websites we recommend" if you want to see some pictures!

On Monday - my actual birthday - we worked during the day but had some friends over in the evening.  We made hummus, guacamole, salsa and bruschette and our guests brought red wine.  We played the bowl game (a version of charades) and had lots of fun!  Oh and of course we had chocolate cake.  The Joy of Cooking was a huge help with the frosting that we took turns whipping by hand.

One more story than I'll leave you.  Today is a public holiday in Uganda, but nobody knew for sure if it would be until 6:30 this morning.  Its officially the end of Ramadan, but apparently the religious leaders decide this by seeing if the moon truly is full the night before the holiday.  A friend here compared it to our Groundhog Day...did the groundhog see his shadow?  So people are supposed to have day off, but that's tricky for clinics, policemen, guards, etc.  These people still have to work but do not get paid extra for their work.  This has brought up some heated discussions at the clinic where I volunteer.

I always forget to talk about my thesis I'm supposed to be writing.  Remind me...I'll tell you next time :)

Miss you all.  Thank you for your emails, e-cards and facebook birthday greetings!  I feel loved.
-Alicia

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